Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Battle For America

I know that a lot of people don't like it, but we have to face it: Donald Trump is a lot better option for a President than Hillary Clinton.

The past month has been horrendous! It all seemed to have started with a shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida. A man who was alleged to have been a gay Muslim ran in, shot the place up, and then our President, Barack Obama, along with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, opted to tell the country that the reason the shooting happened was because of evangelical Christians and guns. Terror attacks have also taken place throughout the world, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. The Muslim Terrorist kill count for the month of Ramadan/June/Gay pride month, exceeded 300 and we are made to believe that this was the fault of gun owning Christian conservatives who support Donald Trump, as well as Donald Trump himself. Not long afterwards, our country has been devastated by a series of police shootings. What started off as apparent instances of police racism later turned into the execution of innocent police officers.

After 2 black men were shot dead by police officers (and as more details come out, it seems as though the instances had nothing to do with racism and may have been justified), 8 police officers with no connection to those 2 events were murdered by black radical racists who have links to black radical racist groups, of which 2 have links to the Nation of Islam. Once again, our President and Hillary Clinton more or less blame the cops. Obama's tone has finally been starting to change, but why? I don't trust the President any more than I can tolerate him (which is shorter than I can throw him). Our President reacts according to political expediency. He realizes that condemning police officers, now that there have been three shootings with 8 officers murdered, it might not help his legacy nor the one he has endorsed for this next election cycle, Hillary Clinton. Time and time again, Hillary and Barack find ways to blame cops, Christians, talk radio, or guns instead of pointing the blame at the killers or the ones who truly influence their fits of violence, liberal progressives.

Trump has been ripped by the media, democrats, and even some republicans for not being politically correct. But he is correct in asserting that he doesn't have time to be politically correct when Christians are being decapitated in the Middle East. Might he also add that he doesn't have time to be politically correct while police officers are being shot here in America? This has been a big part of his platform at the 2016 Republican Convention.

Don't be fooled by Obama or Clinton. They love this violence because they turn every crisis into a platform for policy. These people are radical left wing extremists and the people committing these acts of violence share their ideological conviction; make no mistake about that.

We can continue to be nice to the democrats and pretend they are no different from you or I. But let's face it, all evidence suggests that they don't give a rip about this country, its people, or the Constitution. These people are hell bent on securing power and wealth and will do whatever is necessary to make sure that happens. We don't want to admit their are people so evil in this world...that's exactly what they want you to think.

Truth be told, they don't think they are evil. They don't believe in evil. Why else would Hillary be an admirer of a man who dedicated his book to Lucifer? We are talking about people with extreme ideological convictions that they will never forfeit.

Sure, Trump's not perfect. He's rough around the edges and he's not a good public speaker. But, darn it, he's not Hillary and he's not a left-wing extremist ideologue who sympathizes with predators whose sole purpose is to murder innocent Americans. There was a day and age where such rhetoric would be considered treason. Today, we call it an acceptance speech. God help America.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Litmus Test of a Genuine Church

There has been a lot of talk in the past about what constitutes genuine faith inside of Christianity. Denominations have battled it out for quite some time concerning what it is that truly marks the faith of not only believers, but of entire denominations. One of the biggest complaints skeptics express against Christianity is that there is so much divide and a lot of the divisions lead to wars that cost people their lives. What is it that marks genuine faith inside of a Church denomination?

Let's first establish what it is that marks genuine faith inside of a believer. Frankly, I think that the most credible source for understanding this topic in today's context would be Ray Comfort's ministry, The Way of the Master. Where many people will say that faith/belief marks genuine conversion and others say works are what marks a true believer's life, Ray Comfort contests that Repentance is what marks genuine faith in Jesus Christ. I think that there is some depth to this teaching, but to simplify it by avoiding What comes next? someone who hears the Gospel message must acknowledge his or her sins, admit their guilt, turn from sin, confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, and follow him as he or she forsakes a sin cursed lifestyle. Once again, I think there is some depth to this, but I can't find anything I can disagree with regarding this teaching. Regarding denominations, I think it is a little trickier.

There are so many other doctrines that confound what genuine faith ought to look like. Let me rattle off a list of doctrines that have historically muddied the waters in relation to faith: Baptism, Communion, Tongues, Signs and Wonders, Snake Handling, Worship Style, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Divorce, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Personal Holiness, Procreation, Polygamy, Biblical Authority, Biblical Interpretation, Eschatology (Understanding the End of Days), Predestination, Free Will, Authority in the Church, Modern Day Prophecies, and the list could go on for quite a while. The majority of denominations, according to my understanding, have some sort of a defining characteristic that they expect to be exemplified through individuals in order to acknowledge that their faith is genuine. Not everyone can be right, so how do we know what denomination is right?

To begin, I don't think that churches that claim exclusivity are necessarily doomed to condemnation if they are wrong. A question that recently arose on the internet got me thinking about this topic a little more in depth than what I had in the past and helped to connect some dots, as I thought about its answer. The root question was, "Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?" My immediate response was "No." But then a naughty boy followed the question up with, "Why is it always about Muslims? Why don't you ever question whether Jews and Catholics worship the same God as Christians?" That really got me thinking. Do Christians worship the same God as Jews and Catholics?

Concerning Jews, specifically, I used to think, "Of course they worship the same God as Christians. After all, we share the same Old Testament" (Not that Jews call it the Old Testament). But as I read Romans 9:30-32, it became clear that we do not:

 "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone."

I think this makes it clear that Jews and Christians do not worship the same God. The Gentiles that became Christians placed their faith in Jesus. Righteousness is what gives us the ability to enter into God's presence, but mankind is inherently unrighteous and unable to enter into God's presence because of sin. The Jews relied upon their own works to make them righteous before God and refused to place their faith in Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law of the Jews, given to them by God, and cleansed those who would place their faith in him. Without faith in Jesus, there is no salvation.

Make your own conclusions concerning what I am getting at here, but let me sum it up the best that I can, briefly. There are many denominations with bad theology. No matter how bad of theology (within reason) that a denomination might have, if that denomination teaches that Jesus Christ died for your sins  and rose from the dead and that faith in him ensures eternal life (despite all of the particulars) I believe such a denomination is genuine. They might condemn some of the doctrines inside of your church but that does not undermine the reality that their denomination recognizes Jesus as the Savior of the World. I believe that there is depth to this teaching that might exclude some of the denominations/sects within Christianity, but as far as I can tell, faith in Jesus as the One True God, is the litmus test to determine whether or not a church denomination has genuine faith.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Death of Harambe



The death of Harambe the Gorilla has exposed a very interesting trend in the attitudes of humans throughout the United States. Although I will say that my opinion about the whole thing is probably the majority opinion, there are an alarming number of people that think that the boy who fell into the pen with the ape should have been left to die! Others, of a more naive disposition, believed it was unjust to shoot Harambe to death because he was not harming the child...so they perceived.

There is a petition circulating on the internet where 500,000 people have signed their desire to see Justice for Harambe. Although I understand the heartbreak people have experienced at the destruction of an incredible animal, Harambe was an animal. This little boy was created in the image of God and our priority as humans would be to preserve and protect his life. In terms of justice, the only ones robbed of it was the zoo itself as it was robbed of one of its most valuable assets. Its status in relation to humans is no higher than that of an ox or a dog. Thus, as property, the zoo deserves some sort of compensation for their loss, although they will never receive it.

The Bible says "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). The value of human life is priceless. How can we say that this animal, being created without the ability to reason as people have, could have protected this child? How could anyone say that this boy and his parents should have to suffer because a stupid mistake that took only seconds to accomplish? It takes a cold cold heart to concede that this little boys life was not worth that of one dead gorilla.

After watching the video, above, it is difficult to conclude that this boys life was not in danger. This gorilla was clueless as to what it was doing. According to the experts the gorilla was angry and that there was no choice but to shoot him dead in order to retrieve the boy. As I watched this video, I wondered to myself, "What would I have done if I was a spectator?" I would like to think I would have the courage to spring into action, do something heroic, and save the boy's life. But this was an animal of immense power. My intervention may have resulted in the boys instant demise as this beast could have ripped him in two in the blink of an eye.

It is easy to watch a video where we know the outcome of the situation and say, "This should have been done," or "That should have been done." Could you imagine actually witnessing this event before you knew what was going to happen? It would have been petrifying terror! And as a parent, even more so! If we escalate the situation to a personal level, I couldn't imagine the type of dread that would blanket over me as I watched my little boy being dragged across the water by this massive and immensely powerful creature. Frankly, I would expect to be dead in a matter of minutes because I would not be able to bear the sight of this monster harming my son.

I love animals. I think they are wonderful and that God has gifted them with incredible abilities. I would prefer that both the boy and the ape would have been spared from this horrendous incident. Unfortunately, there was no compromising in this situation. Either the gorilla or the boy was going to be carried out of this situation in a body bag. Shame on you, if you believe it should have been the boy.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Humility of Christ and the Humility of Man (Philippians)

"who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped"~Philippians 2:6

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."~Philippians 3:12

There is no doubt that Philippians chapter 3 is outlining the narrow road that a believer must walk to attain salvation. It is intimidating to read that Paul himself, one of the most amazing men ever to walk the earth, did not consider himself to be at the point that he had attained salvation. The road he outlines sounds very much like a works based salvation and if Paul had not achieved this security by the time he was thrown into prison and wrote the letter to the Philippians, who can have any security that they have attained the gift of eternal life? Might I suggest that you can?

The other day as I was reading through Philippians in my ESV Bible, after having read chapter 2 and continuing onward to chapter 3, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. There was a parallel between the position of Christ to God, in chapter two, with the position of mankind to Christ in chapter 3. 

The verse I have listed above, Philippians 2:6, is saying that Jesus did not exercise his full authority as God while he walked among his disciples and this was considered an act of humility on Jesus' behalf. After that, it states what Jesus did to fulfill his obedience to God including his becoming a man, becoming a servant, and suffering to the point of death.

Philippians 3 starts off with Paul outlining some points of which he could boast but quickly transitions to how he considers these qualifications as rubbish in comparison to the glory of knowing Jesus Christ. This glory that Paul describes that mankind works to attain is parallel to the glory described in chapter 2 that Christ attained through his obedience to the Father. Our obedience, likewise will aid us in attaining an incredible glory in our resurrected state.

Now, what I am observing is not that the resurrection is something that must be earned but the degree of glory that brings us closest to God in the resurrection. Where do I get that from?

Philippians 3:12 ends by stating that Christ Jesus has made Paul his own. Verse 16 states that we ought to hold on to what we have attained. Where Jesus did not hold his position as God over us, we as Christians are not to hold the status of being a Christian as a means of righteousness for ourselves. 

Before God, we are made righteous in Christ. He has already paid our debt. But as grateful servants of Christ, we are to live our lives as people who joyfully desire to repay our debt to God despite the fact we can never repay it. Let me reiterate what I am trying to say:

Though being gifted with the Holy Spirit, we ought not count the Spirit as our own righteousness. Instead, we should regard ourselves as nothing, owing God everything for the all surpassing glory that is guaranteed to the servants of Christ. So that on that day, we would not live in God's presence merely because we confessed our sins, but that we lived a life of full repentance and righteousness as though it was our debt and entry fee to heaven. Praise God, through Jesus Christ, that we can already claim sonship through his sacrifice. 

Let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Predestined for Eternity: Hope for the Church


It brings me great pleasure to present to you my new book, Predestined for Eternity. This book has been a journey, as have my other works thus far. In this book I seek to answer questions regarding the nature of Predestination and Free Will. Within the mainstream church, we see these issues as divisive. But within the scope of God's Word, they should bring a sense of wonder, awe, and humility that results in unity.

I believe it is foolish to dismiss the reality of either Predestination or Free Will when reflecting upon God's grace upon human kind. In Acts 17:26-27, we see both referred to by the Apostle Paul (albeit, not by name), "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us."

Ravi Zacharias has pointed out that the Bible frequently speaks about these two aspects of salvation side-by-side. He refers to it as God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility. If God did not judge, he would not be entirely sovereign. But if mankind were not responsible for some aspect of salvation, they could not be judged. And yet the Scriptures tell us that everyone is without excuse. When we deny God, we are gravely responsible for rejecting God's only Son. It is on this basis that we are condemned. But without God's Spirit, we would be unable to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Most people see predestination and free will as being mutually exclusive concepts. In Predestined for Eternity: The Truth about Predestination and Free Will, you will learn that they work complimentary, one to the other, in a manner that secures God the maximum amount of glory.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Zootopia


I have to start off by saying that Disney's Zootopia was another display of Disney's brilliance. It was a fun and entertaining movie that exhibited the type of originality that it seems only Disney is capable of delivering these days. So let's have a run down of what makes Zootopia Good, Bad, and Ugly.

The Good
You leave this movie feeling good. It is the story of a bunny who is trying to prove herself worthy of the police force of Zootopia. She's characterized as a small town girl with big dreams that will stop at nothing to fulfill those dreams. Along the way, people try to discourage her. Aside from wanting to prove herself, she believes she can genuinely serve the world by being a courageous and hardworking police officer.

There is an element of redemption for her co-star, Nick the Fox. Fox's are sneaky creatures that have a bad reputation. Nick grew up enduring the school of hard knocks and has given in to the stereotypes that label him as a dishonest, rotten, predatory scoundrel. Through his relationship with officer Hops (the main character) it is discovered that he has a good heart underneath his rough exterior.

The Bad
EVOLUTION!!! Does every kids movie have to start off with an evolutionary premise anymore? Perhaps it is more subtle in this movie, but for minds like mine that have been trained to spot such propaganda, it is dead obvious that evolution is driving force in the movie. It is mostly rooted in the reality that the predators used to be savages, but have now become civil. I await the day that evolution fulfills its destiny of becoming nothing more than a fairy tale that is only used to make sci fi and fantasy stories more interesting. As it is currently used, its employed as a mild form of brainwashing.

 The Ugly
Something about Police Officers stereotyping animals according to their species and certain species justifying their ill behaviors according to what they are might make some people uncomfortable. I will also warn you that there is full blown animal nudity in this movie...like totally naked animals on a secret nudist reserve. Cover your eyes for this scene (It's actually quite comical). Also...implied inter-species relationship...I'm not going to spoil this right now but, again, it's a children's cartoon. So don't worry.

The movie is brilliant. I highly recommend it for families, although I would suggest that parents point out the evolutionary implications to their kids. It kept my two year old's attention for the whole movie, so you know it has to be good.

Creation And God

May 1, 2016 was a good day to reflect upon creation and its Creator.

Today at Gateway, we started a series on the Apostles Creed. The first part of the Creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." As a result of this, the emphasis of the sermon by Pastor Adam Borsay was focused on the doctrine of God as the Creator.

Pastor Borsay did an excellent job of summing up the importance of this Church doctrine. Where others would have taken the route of preaching a message that focused on evidences for God, he focused on the sovereignty of God. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by this take on this doctrine. With all of the controversy concerning where the universe came from, I expected something that addressed a multitude of evidences. Instead, we received a well-delivered message that assured us of God's sovereignty and control over the entire universe. Wow! It was a powerful message. It included a call to action to not only state our belief in God, but as our Sovereign Creator we should willfully and joyfully devote our time to him in whatever we do.

Later on May 1, Dr. Disilvestro from The Ohio State University spoke to the church concerning various evidences of creation. I was thoroughly pleased that several of those evidences (beginning of the universe, anthropic principle, and the complexity of living organisms) are also noted in my book 10 Irrefutable Proofs of Creation. The other two evidences were strictly Biblical: The Biblical Creation Account and the Resurrection of Jesus. These two were a good reminder that although the world has its form of wisdom, it is only in God's Word that we find truth. Disilvestro delivered his message in a gracious and professional manner.

Today rekindled my passion for this doctrine/debate once again. Check out the blog section on my webpage, www.williamhseng.com, and find out what I have to say on some of these topics!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Don't Complain About Cruz's Tactics

I was going to include an illustration along with my last post concerning Senator Ted Cruz's tactics for defeating Donald Trump at the Republican Convention and forgot to do so. It continues to amaze me that although this election is supposed to be a recall of the establishment and a thorough butt whoopin' to the media elites, we have instead chosen to reward at least the latter by allowing them to force the Lyin' Ted narrative upon us, despite the fact that he is not lying.

Again, don't misunderstand, I am not saying Donald Trump is the anti-Christ or that he is our worst possible option for President. I just don't like seeing a good man get slandered as bad as Senator Cruz has been for the past couple of months. Trump is taking advantage of any political mud that happens to stick to the target by drawing the eyes of possible onlookers to it. If this is not true, he reminds me of a certain competitive person I once knew.

This particular man was a wrestling coach of mine. Along with being an excellent citizen, he was an elite in terms of his athletic ability. So elite, however, that the possibility of defeat could not be chalked up to any failures of his own. I remember one time we were playing basketball as a team (yes, a wrestling team playing basketball). Whenever his team came in danger of losing, he would start accusing the other team of cheating. All of a sudden, everything was a foul or a travel or what have you. Defeat was not in this man's vocabulary. If I recall correctly, his team went undefeated, namely because nobody was going to question his judgment as a player, coach, official. I think Trump has the same competitive nature. But the whining about Cruz's tactics are ridiculous and I am going to use another wrestling analogy to illustrate the absurdity in the complaints.

In the sport of wrestling, when you bring your opponent down to all fours on the mat, you are no longer allowed to lock your hands around them. Any violation of this rule results in a point for your opponent and if it continues, more point get awarded. If it continues after the point value is raised, the violator gets disqualified. There is one exception to this rule against locking hands. You are allowed to lock your hands around your opponent if you are attempting a pinning combination.

Let's say that I am aware of this exception to the locking hands rule but neither my opponent nor the crowd is aware of it. Taking this scenario further, I take my opponent down and lock my hands around him to perform a pinning combination known as a cradle. My opponent becomes confused as to why the official is not stopping the move dead and the fans start shouting "Locking hands! He's locking hands!" My opponent is immobilized by the move and stunned as the official rules him pinned, crediting a victory to me. My opponent stands up utterly outraged that he was ripped off, that I cheated, and starts riling up the crowd. The crowd shouts louder and louder until they start to become absolutely enraged at the possibility that the official and I had rigged the match in my favor. So, should I be punished because I knew the rules better than my opponent and the fans? Was it unfair that I took advantage of the rules and my opponent chose to remain ignorant of them (or at least feign ignorance)?

The reality about Ted Cruz's campaign was that he has been preparing for this moment for the past few years. He understood that he had to slay a dragon and the only way to do it was to understand every strength and weakness it possessed before charging it head-on. He knew that the GOP would take advantage of every loop-hole in the rules they could find. As a result, he made sure that he could play ball with them before he stepped onto the field. This has been the weakness of past candidates that were beloved by the general public. We loved them, but they wanted to win based on merit alone...that's a lovely thought, but their opponents aren't there to be nice and play fair. With our past two nominees it is clear that not every candidate cares about being liked.

I felt like sharing these points would be necessary because we are begrudging a man for being well-prepared. Perhaps that is our problem as Americans, we want people to be elected who are just like us. We want to run into a situation, guns blazing, and ask questions only after the rest of the room is dead. In this respect, Cruz is a dead-eye. He identified all of the targets before he walked into the room and is systematically taking them out according to their threat level. I find it hard to believe that anyone faults Cruz for taking this campaign seriously. The sad thing is that neither he nor Trump have even set foot on stage, yet, against their eventual democratic opponent. When that happens, I want my nominee to be prepared for all of the sleaziness that is certain to ensue.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Smart Campaign Isn't Always Popular


I am quite amused by people's complaints about how Senator Ted Cruz is managing his primary campaign against Donald Trump. He is working hard, winning states, and obeying the rules. And yet there seems to be a massive outrage among supporters of Donald Trump claiming that Ted Cruz is employing the dirty tricks of the Establishment in order to oust Donald Trump and steal the GOP nomination. It is inconceivable to certain people that he can legitimately persuade delegates that will be pledged to Donald Trump in the first ballot to vote for him on the second. These people suspect that Cruz must be bribing, threatening, or using other dirty tactics to sway these delegates into supporting him at the convention.

Before going forward, I want to remind everyone who the enemy in this election cycle is: the democratic nominee, namely Hillary Clinton (it's inevitable). Both Trump and Cruz supporters believe in their candidate and think that anyone other than their pick will be more of the same in the White House. In either case, I disagree. If we elect Hillary, all bets are off. It will be more of the same and even worse, she will take the current administrations antics to new heights. Did we forget that a conservative Supreme Court Justice will be replaced by the eventual Presidential nominee? A lot is at stake in this election and Hillary has made it clear; she does not seek to change hearts, but laws and allocation of resources.

In relation to Ted Cruz's "stealing" delegates from Donald Trump, people have accepted the premise that you can't just change the hearts of people; meaning that Cruz is doing something shady to win the support of Trump's first ballot delegates. If you feel that way, check out this video:


After watching this video you will realize that Ted Cruz's debate skills are nothing to be mocked. Many have mocked him for wanting a debate against Donald Trump, acknowledging that they know Cruz is the better debater, but what good will that do when confronting hostile world leaders? What we see in this video is that Ted Cruz demonstrates that he understands the games that politicians play, he understands ethanol subsidies, and that he knows a path that will prevent politicians from pandering to different groups of people so that all people can get the best deal. The best deal in this, and every instance, is limited government involvement in our lives. In a word, his solution is...CONSERVATISM.

Ted Cruz happens to articulate conservatism better than anyone else in government today, PERIOD! People, whether they realize it or not, have been longing for a rock solid conservative candidate and when they are confronted with the brilliance of Ted Cruz, they cannot help but to submit to the common sense solutions that he provides and articulates in remarkable detail. If you have not watched the video above, do so, and you will know exactly what I am talking about (Iowa makes great use of ethanol subsidies and Cruz was the lone voice advocating against ethanol subsidies).

So how is Cruz winning the delegates from Donald Trump for the purpose of a second ballot vote? By making it clear that he will deliver conservatism to the American people and that he will honor the promises that he makes. If you have not been following Cruz's political career, rest assured he is good for his word. Any politician in Washington that is as hated as Cruz is by his peers is doing something right. Rarely ever will you hear anyone say that Congress is doing an incredible job at serving the American people. Cruz is hated because he has exposed their corruption and is providing people with an alternative.

If Donald Trump is our nominee, I will vote for him without hesitation. But you cannot convince me that he's going to be the right person to fix our country. I believe he would stop much of the status quo nonesense of Washington, but he won't fix anything. In fact, with some of his statements he has made it clear that he doesn't view some of the biggest problems in government as being all that big of a deal. He just promises that he make smarter deals. And I believe him. How could things get any worse with our deal making (barring another democrat President)? He will stop the damage, but he will be reigning in a wasteland left behind by destructive political forces. Cruz happens to know how to reverse the damage that has been done.

When delegates hear the message Cruz delivers, he easily wins their hearts and their votes. Where Clinton would be an absolutely devastating blow to the United States, as President, Trump would be a neutral force that perfects the failed programs Obama has created. He would be totally unpredictable as an occupant of the White House. A Trump President would be much better than another ideological democrat, but compared to a proven conservative like Cruz, why would you want to chance it with anyone else? I'm not saying that Cruz will win the nomination, but it should not be a surprise that he is a light of hope for those who have steadfastly clung to conservative principles.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Creation Museum: Not Just for YECs!

Going to the Answers In Genesis Creation Museum with my wife and 2 year old boy was quite the experience. It reminded me of the beginning of the movie Jurassic World when the young boy walked into the visitor's center to see all of the amazing dinosaur displays as our son was just overwhelmed and overjoyed at the sight of all of the lifelike dinosaur displays in their main lobby. Although it clearly has a Young Earth slant toward its teachings, I contest that the Creation Museum has much to offer to people who might not share the same interpretation of Scripture as the Answers In Genesis ministry.

I might not be the best person to make that statement, since I am a Young Earth Creationist, but I have noticed people's excitement about the prospect of going to the Creation Museum and the incredible responses afterwards from those who were not necessarily young earthers. What is it that makes the Creation Museum such an incredible place for Christians of all interpretations of Genesis to go to?

First, whether you believe they are literal or not, the stories portrayed in the Creation Museum are the stories in the Bible. There is no denying that the Creation Account details six days where God created the heaven and earth, the fall of mankind, and a global flood; so if you believe the Bible is God inspired, why be offended at the artistic portrayal of these events by the Creation Museum?

Second, the theological teachings are solid. The most difficult question people struggle with in this day and age is, If God is so good, why is there so much suffering in the world? I was sitting down with an elderly lady who said that she wished her non-believing son could have seen this place because it made it clear that God is good, but mankind, through free will, has corrupted God's good creation.This point is made incredibly clear.

Third, there are so many secular pro-evolution museums across the world (funded by tax payer dollars, no less) that scream an anti-Bible message with each display. It is a breath of fresh air that Answers In Genesis is teaching that God deserves ALL of the glory for the marvelous creation that exists around us and, of which, we are. And in this department, the beauty of both their artistic depictions as well as their natural exhibits (i.e. the botanical gardens) make it perfectly evident that God deserves much glory for the brilliance of his handiwork.

Young Earth or Old Earth, Answers In Genesis' Creation Museum is a wonderful blessing for Christians across the world. My wife and I have been blessed by it in knowing that somebody out their stands alongside our values as we try to raise our son to understand the truth of God's Word.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Quick Look at: God's Not Dead 2

I have so much to say about the movie God's Not Dead 2...of which I saw about 3/4 of the movie (don't ask). I would typically give you a more thorough overview and critique of the movie, but I am going to make it quick.

It is a GREAT movie! To start off, be ready for God's Not Dead 3. I am sure that it will generate enough revenue to warrant another sequel, but it has also opened the door within its plot for a third installment (stay until after the credits). I love how it exposes biased media sources, Big Education, and even the justice system for being disgustingly anti-God. Granted, the script writers don't pull this off in the most clever fashion but shoot, neither does Hollywood when it picks on Christians for being nothing more than a bunch of ignorant superstitious kooks.

Overall, though, it was a well-crafted, clever movie. For the past couple of years I have been saying that Christians/Conservatives need to stop making documentaries and start telling stories (okay, maybe not in those words, but you get the picture). The brilliance of this movie, as well as the first, is that it creates a scenario where Christians are singled out for their faith and persecuted, all the while the Christian is forced to present factual information to defend their faith against these oppressive forces. In the first movie it was a professor, in this one it is the educational system along with government in the form of a court case. Ultimately, the objective becomes proving the existence of Jesus so that a teacher could be justified in citing a quote from him in a history class.

But that's not all, at the end of the movie it reveals that it was based off of not just one real life court case, but several. I appreciated that because many non-believers might say, "This would never happen in real life." Oh no, it most certainly does; even to the ridiculous extent that it happens in the movie.

My only complaint about the movie is that the first 15 minutes is kind of preachy. Granted, the creators knew who their audience would be so those moments are more so tailored to make believers cheer and affirm the statements that non-believers would perceive as preachy. And honestly, the only thing that irked me a little about these moments was that they seemed forced. Like when the main character's father says, "We seem to have forgotten the most basic right of all. The right to believe in Jesus." It set the stage for the rest of the movie, but if I were the writer, I would have let the movie make that point without directly stating it...trust me, it does a good job at that.

As the main character battles to save her livelihood, another plot unfolds. The local government wants all pastors to submit their manuscripts for their sermons or face a penalty for refusing. I love the discussion several pastors have after hearing this announcement because it is exactly how I would envision such a conversation going. Basically, "They certainly don't mean us any harm. This is not an ill-willed request. We don't want to be in violation of the law. No need to cause a stir." The main pastor of the movie steps in and states that it will not end here and that we must stand up against such nonsense. The sad thing about this, is that it has actually been attempted by several local governments in America!

Bottom line: If you are a believer, you will love God's Not Dead 2. If you are not, Warning: The Truth Hurts. This movie will not make many friends among non-believers. But hopefully, it will expose the hypocrisy of liberals of the non-believing community. But I'm not holding my breath for them to acknowledge that.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Batman v. Superman



Despite the incredible amount of negative feedback the new DC flick, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has received, I felt it was one of the greatest Superhero movies ever. Where the Marvel Universe focuses on razzle dazzle special effects and tons of action, the DC movies focus on building solid plots with deeper messages. It might be easier to mindlessly pop a Marvel Universe movie into your Blu Ray or DVD player, but when a person switches on a DC movie it requires that you pay attention to every detail of the movie. After watching a DC movie, you just feel like you have become a better man (or woman) for having done so.

I don't feel like giving away any major plot elements, so we are going to go right into The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Dawn of Justice.

The Good
Perhaps the most pure thing of Dawn of Justice is that one of the major themes is "Love Conquers All." Lois Lane, of course, is the object of Superman's affection and there is nothing he won't do to get her out of trouble. Toward the beginning of the movie, he tracks her down thousands of miles away to save her life, and this is the least of the heroic acts he displays in protecting Lois! Certain elements of the plot also involve Superman's love for his earth mother, Martha Kent. This is also shown in Man of Steel, when Superman pummels General Zod for threatening her life. The theme of his pure intentions and love play a role in the climax of the film and erase all doubts of what type of being the man from Krypton really is.

There is a clear distinction made between good and evil throughout the movie. Although it seems that the plot is supposed to revolve around the ultimate conflict between Batman and Superman, neither of them is portrayed as the villain. Batman seeks to protect mankind from forces that go way beyond man's capability to cope with them while Superman uses his powers to do good things even though he faces legal scrutiny for doing so. Lex Luthor is, without a doubt, the villain of the movie.

Luthor is obsessed with killing Superman. It is not because he views Superman as a threat to mankind, but a threat to his own power. You might liken it unto King Herod's desire to kill Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. He could tell that Jesus was only there to do good, but he was to be King. If you are a king, you might not like that. I will spoil the fact that Luthor is responsible for ultimately pitting Superman against Batman in their final epic showdown. Much like The Dark Knight's Joker, Luthor just wants to see the most pure of human spirits forced to get their hands dirty. He is not the clever well-spoken Luthor of earlier days, though. He's more like a mad scientist. He excels at spouting off disconnected phrases that might seem like gibberish at first, but then you realize that he is so smart, so disturbed, and so consumed with hatred that he cannot contain his own madness.

The Bad
Evolution...ah yes. Evolution. Is there going to be a movie made this year that does not have evolution as a main plot element? I say that it is a main plot element because Superman is from outer space. Somewhere in the course of the movie, Neil DeGrasse Tyson appears and talks about what Superman means to the world. One of the things was that, "We discovered that we were not so special with our existence on earth. And now we have realized that we are not so special with our existence in the universe." This statement drips with secular, far-left, evolutionary ideology. The only way mankind is not special in terms of the universe would be if we evolved like every other form of life and that greater species than ours have evolved elsewhere.

Sexuality. Although it was not over the top, I felt like the sexuality was too obvious. Shoot, even the trailer for this movie showed Clark Kent hopping in the tub with a naked Lois Lane. I felt that was too far and I was hoping that it was not how it looked. Nope, it was exactly how it looked. Not that sexuality is far removed from any of the superhero movies ever made, but this pushes back my son from seeing this movie until a significantly later date. But it's not just the tub scene (which, again, was not over the top, but obvious), Batman apparently has sleep-overs with random babes and even exclaims, as he notices an attractive woman walk by, "I'm sorry. It's a weakness of mine." In another scene (the only scene like this for the Bat) Bruce Wayne answers a phone call in his bedroom. As he gets up and starts moving around, you notice that a woman was lying beside him. This scene is very obscure, but I was scratching my head, asking, "Why was that necessary?" But, again, it's the world we live in. You wish that Hollywood would realize that the most successful movies they put out do not include random acts of filth. Oh well.

The Ugly
A reminder, the ugly is not referring to anything necessarily good or bad. It is referring to points of potential controversy. In fact, I consider most of the ugly, in this case, to be good.

For instance, constant references to God. More or less, this movie puts God on trial in a very entertaining sort of way...boy do I wish I could reveal more because it's deep. Superman is the Godlike figure and, once again, Luthor wants him dead. He wants him dethroned. And he is convincing droves of other people that Superman needs to fall (similar to the way the public turns against Batman in The Dark Knight). If you, as a believer, are skeptical of the message about God in this movie at first, be patient and don't let the malice toward God throughout the movie dissuade you as I found it to be a set up for the punch line of the movie (ironic seeing how evolution also plays a role within the plot of this movie).

Politics. This movie is politically muddled. I couldn't follow exactly what the political message was meant to be, which indicates to me that it supports an establishment progressive agenda. At times it seemed as though there were conservative themes, but then you see that the people who stand against Superman are picketing with signs that tell him that illegals are not wanted and a curious sign, of which I only saw half, "You cannot be Christian and..." I wish I could have read the rest of that, but I'm not so anxious to find out what it said. Maybe one day Christians won't be portrayed as hate-filled hillbillies? But, what do you expect from Hollywood?

Defining truth is somewhat of a theme throughout the movie; probably more so than most people realize. In fact, I would contend that the conflict between Batman and Superman revolved around this dilemma. As they were fighting, Batman said to Superman something like, "I bet your parents told you that there is purpose to your existence." He followed that statement by saying that his parents basically taught him that there is none. That the world is ugly and we just have to deal with it. It sounds negative when I put it like that, but you just have to wait for the movie to play out to see where it was leading.

Final Analysis
This movie is not for kids and I think that the PG-13 label is well-stated. Children under 13 should not see it unattended (can children under 13 go to any movie unattended?). Batman has no "rule" that guides his vigilantism which makes his presence, well, pretty overwhelming (in a good way).

Thus far I have not been disappointed with any of the DC movies and I am looking forward to the follow-up to this one...wait, Green Lantern was DC? Aw man...but it wasn't that bad, right? It just didn't live up to expectations was all. Think they will cast Ryan Reynolds to reprise his role as the Lantern one day?

Anyway, go see this movie and go with an open-mind. I can't stand reading lousy reviews from people who don't bother to digest the real message of the movies they review. This one's good and it's deep, which is why it's hard to find a good review of it until you've read mine.

www.williamhseng.com

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of The Good Dinosaur

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law relplied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." ~Luke 10:36-37

Disney's The Good Dinosaur is the story of an Apatosaurus, Arlo, who is trying to overcome his fears and do something great for his family.The story is entertaining, unique, and full of moral lessons. The plot launches from the platform that Arlo was supposed to exterminate a pest that was infiltrating Arlo's family's food silo. After capturing the pest, it is revealed that the pest is a human. Arlo cannot bring himself to kill him which leads to a series of events that changes his and his family's life. Without spoiling the plot details, let's look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of The Good Dinosaur.

The Good:
It appears that the title, Good Dinosaur, is a play on the story of the Good Samaritan, which is a story that Jesus told. The story that Jesus told was multi-tiered in purpose. He was asked the question what the greatest commandments of God were, to which the answer was, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27) Jesus confirms this response, but the one asking the question then asks, "And who is my neighbor?" The parable of the Good Samaritan was told to explain to the crowd what a neighbor was. Pop-culture defines a Good Samaritan as a well intentioned passerby who does good for strangers. The story of the Good Samaritan does not teach this.

A Good Samaritan, according to the parable, is someone who is supposed to be an enemy behaves as a friend. The parable ends up with a Samaritan, a hated enemy of the Jews, saving the life of a Jew after the Jew's own countrymen refuse him aid. The Good Dinosaur captures the spirit of this timeless parable.

Instead of killing the human that he trapped, Arlo sets him free. He later regrets his decision and seeks to do away with him, but then they both realize the value in one another and work together so that they may both return to their families. The climax of the story takes place when Arlo is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his friend's (Spot, the human's) life.

Aside from the clear parallels between this story and the Good Samaritan, this movie also teaches courage, duty, and the value of human life. The latter of which is desperately needed in a world that has forgotten what even the lowliest of human lives are worth.

The Bad:
Evolution everywhere. The very premise of the movie is rooted in evolution. Namely, the meteor that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs missed earth allowing the dinosaurs to survive and develop an advanced cultural society. It makes for a fun movie, but is very clever in mind wiping young children into believing in the theory of evolution. This is added to with various plot elements.

Probably the most significant element influenced by evolution is Spot, the human, and his family. Evolution teaches that mankind evolved from apelike creatures that walked about on all fours. Spot does not primarily walk upright and neither does his family (until the conclusion of the movie). Spot is very primitive and behaves in many ways like a dog. Once again, this makes for an entertaining movie, but is clearly an attempt at indoctrination by the movie's creators.

Another evolutionary reference was with the "rustler" velociraptors which were covered in bird feathers. Where on earth did this notion evolve that dinosaurs had feathers? Why are raptors often victims of this ridiculous notion? Ultimately every time it is suspected that a feathered dinosaur is discovered, it is later refuted. Problem is it is never reported. It makes for wonderful fiction in movies such as this, but it is not rooted in reality (which is why Jurassic World opted to not include feathers on their dinosaurs as it reflects the most up-to-date scientific data on the subject, which is a departure from their proto-feathers in Jurassic Park III).

The Ugly:
When I say ugly, I mean unusual or controversial.

The first unusual gesture that sticks out to me in the movie was how the band of Tyrannosaurs were good guys! This was a great addition to the movie which viewers are sure to enjoy as T.Rex is one of the most popular dinosaurs. What is more, it unintentionally dispels a myth that the big bad T.Rex is all that bad.

As a person that does not buy in to the evolutionary story of origins, I believe dinosaur behavior is significantly different than what it is perceived to have been. The story of evolution teaches that there were meat-eaters and there were plant-eaters. The plant-eaters were peaceful and harmless while the meat-eaters were always on the prowl seeking to terrorize, kill, and devour every chance they got. I don't believe this is the story with dinosaurs at all. Instead, dinosaurs probably had habits very similar to animals today. In fact, I bet that plant-eaters were probably very territorial and just as dangerous as what we perceive to be the meat-eaters. Have you seen how big brachiosaurus is? That thing is dangerous even if it's not aware of your presence! Good T.Rex? Love it!

Next, snake with legs. This is not necessarily an exclusive evolutionary belief. Many creationists believe that snakes used to have legs, as well. The Bible says that after the fall snakes would be punished by being forced to crawl through the dirt. It is thought by some to mean that snakes used to have legs that would prevent them from having to lick up dust. Not everyone agrees in creationist circles, but there is a little fossil evidence to suggest this is a possibility.

One of the primary threats in the movie, a Pterosaur of some sort, was religiously obsessed with storms. His saying was, "The Storm will provide." He is portrayed as being a religious zealot who preys on the misfortune of creatures that get tied up by the aftermath of storms. I do not take this as an attack on all religious people, but for once I would like to see religious folk in movies, that even mildly resemble Christians (as I felt this pterodactyl did) portrayed in a positive light. Most other religions are portrayed positively as being humble, wise, and honorable. Christians are almost always portrayed as the bad guys: crazy, judgmental, and legalistic. The way Christians are portrayed, I wouldn't want to be one if that's what they were really like. This pterodactyl was not portrayed as a Christian, but it is easy enough to see what real life religion was being alluded to.

Conclusion:
The Good Dinosaur is an excellent movie that conveys good morals, although carrying heavy evolutionary themes. It was entertaining but did have a somewhat strange tone (probably because the dinosaurs were more cartoony while existing in a very realistic environment). Now that I have shared the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of it, you can watch it with a mind that is ready to take on the challenges it brings forth.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Money is Not Evil

For the love of money is a root for all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. ~1 Timothy 6:10

The common teaching inside of Christianity, even in America, is that the acquisition of wealth is evil. This stance is quite understandable given passages like the one cited above. One translation even says that the love of money is the root of ALL evil (KJV). In the book of Acts, some people have even claimed that in chapter two the disciples were practicing the redistribution of wealth (Acts 2:45). Jesus himself said, "Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort" (Luke 6:24). Given this evidence, how can I possibly make the case that money is not evil?

Money is not evil, the love of it is. Money itself is not good or evil. In the world in which we live money is the means through which people do business. A long time ago people exchanged goods and services. They bartered for the things they wanted. Money is a representation of one's merit. A person with more money simply means that the value of work that person has done (or family has done) is worth the amount of money they possess.

Second Thessalonians says a mouthful about the importance of service/work in exchange for basic needs. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 says "nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it." 3:10 reads, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." And 3:12 finishes by saying, "Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." The Bible does not encourage laziness or begging for food, although it does encourage charitable giving. These passages are pivotal for understanding the New Testament's teaching on money. Money is compensation for one's work and it is necessary in our culture in order for us to survive.

Upon a closer reading of Scripture you will notice that money plays a significant role in ministry. The acquisition of money should not be looked down upon. Deuteronomy 8 18 states, "But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today." God himself grants the ability to make money. Therefore, the acquisition of wealth is not evil, it is one of God's blessings.

If you continue reading chapter 6 of 1 Timothy, there are further instructions for those who are rich. If being having were sinful in itself, there would not be instructions like these: Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (6:17-19).

Wealth to the wealthy is a gift from God. It is a blessing so that those who have it can be charitable and do the will of God with it. This is why Paul, in 1 Timothy, puts so much emphasis on not being absorbed with making money. It is a resource that God wants us to use for his glory.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Jedi vs. Christian

With the release of the 7th Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars mania is sweeping across the world. An iconic story line pitting good vs evil, heroes vs villains, and the underdogs vs the overwhelmingly powerful. Who wouldn't want to be a Jedi Knight fighting against the forces of evil. My only question is, are the Jedi actually good?

Before diving into the meat of this question, of course the Jedi are good if we are only considering the Star Wars universe. Compared to their dark side counterparts and the Empire they are definitely the good guys. But, as an evangelical Christian there are certain aspects of the Jedi lifestyle that don't jive well with my understanding of good

Let's start with Anakin Skywalker, who later became Darth Vader. In Episode II, Attack of the Clones, he falls in love with Princess Padme, but must keep their engagement a secret because Jedi are not supposed to have intimate relationships/get married. To make matters worse, he receives visions that the one he loves was going to die and doesn't know what to do about it. He encounters the powerful Sith lord (a Sith is the dark side counterpart to the Jedi), Darth Sidious, also known as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Sidious reveals that the dark side of the force unleashes the ability to do things that are not considered natural. One of these abilities is the power to bring people back from the dead. Anakin rejects the Jedi and joins Sidious on the promise that he will help him find a way to save Padme.

Understand that The Force is largely inspired by religions that still exist today. Like the religions that it draws inspiration from, one of the core tenants would be that there is no individuality. We are all part of the universe. Each one of us plays a part inside of the workings of the universe and the differing personalities bring balance to the universe. To value one person more than another is selfishness and this sort of selfishness will result only in trouble.

Approaching it from a Christian perspective, this is highly flawed thinking. What the Bible teaches is that every individual is created in the Image of God. Each individual has a unique and sophisticated relationship to his or her Creator. Relationships are a core value to Christianity. We are to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Analyze the character of your average Jedi. Would they do the same?

My assessment of the Jedi is that their purpose is to maintain order within their universe. It does not appear like they mourn or rejoice all that much. Look at Obi-Wan Kenobi's reaction after his teacher was killed and his corpse is burning before his eyes. Not a tear was shed. Observe Jesus' reaction after his friend Lazarus passed away from an illness. He weeps. Why would the Jedi Order outlaw loving relationships?

Relationships bring a multitude of emotions. They range from joy to sorrow. These emotions can have an impact on a person's decision making abilities. If you are not emotionally attached to anyone, it is becomes much easier to stay focused on the task at hand. Let me steal an example from another movie, I, Robot.

In I, Robot the main character hates robots. The reason is kept secret until about half way through the movie where it is discovered that he has a robotic arm. He lost his arm in a car accident. His car and the car of the person with whom he collided fell into a lake and both were sinking. A robot dove in to rescue them, but had to make a choice between the main character and a little boy inside of the other vehicle. The robot chose to save the main character, all the while he was shouting at the machine to save the boy. The main character then tells another character that the robot rescued him because his odds of surviving were higher than those of the boy in the other vehicle. Thus, he began to hate and distrust the machines, knowing that they do not have the capacity to make values based judgment calls.

I would argue that the Jedi are the same way. Cold, scheming, and with no regard for individual lives.

Now, do not think for a second that I am saying Star Wars is evil. I love Star Wars! My desire, though, is that it be enjoyed for what it is and that the values of the Star Wars universe are understood to be different values from those that exist in the real world. People matter. Individuals matter. Think about it, had Anakin been allowed to openly and unashamedly marry Padme, one of the most powerful Siths ever to fall into the grasp of the dark side would not have been born. That would have saved the Jedi a lot of trouble in the long run, but would have made episodes IV-VI remarkably boring. Thank you Jedi Order, for giving us Darth Vader.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

There is a Book...About a Wall

We are at a pivotal crossroads in the realm of politics concerning how we deal with immigrants who have not gone through the proper channels to come to America. Governor Bobby Jindal has said, "Immigration without without assimilation is invasion." Others from the more moderate or liberal branch of politics will say that it is irresponsible to deport millions of immigrants who are already here and separate their families. What makes the issue even more complex is the most respected and recognized of all figures inside of the Church, Pope Francis, has stated that Christians don't build walls, they build bridges. We as Americans have prided ourselves as being a Christian nation since our founding. Can we continue to do that if we build a wall to prevent illegal immigrants from entering our country? What is greatly overlooked how there is an entire book in the Bible, devoted to the task of building a wall with the express purpose of keeping out invaders. It is the book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah is the story about the Babylonian King Artaxerxes' Jewish Cupbearer, Nehemiah. Nehemiah receives news from Jerusalem that the city is in disgrace because the wall has been decimated. He is so downcast that the king recognizes his grief and asks him what is bothering him. Nehemiah tells him the situation and Artaxerxes grants him a leave of absence so that he can return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. When Nehemiah made it back to Jerusalem, he got to work building the wall alongside his countrymen, but met great opposition as they struggled to restore the wall to its original form. The opposition eventually fizzled out and the wall was completed. Afterwards, many of the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem to celebrate its completion. What was so important about this wall?

Back in Biblical times, it was well understood that walls were necessary for preventing invaders from trampling over a city. As you read the story, you will notice that their foreign rivals are the ones who oppose the building of the wall. They try to diminish it and their efforts so that they will stop trying to build it. Notice, also, that King Artaxerxes realized the dire situation Jerusalem was in without a wall. Why would he care to send his most trusted servant away on leave to rebuild it if it were not of high importance?

A wall, back then was a mark of political significance. One of the major miracles that God performed in the Old Testament was collapsing the walls of Jericho. The reason being that the walls were so high that invading armies could not penetrate their defense. Keeping invading forces out ensured that the culture within the wall would be preserved. In this instance, God wanted to topple the wall and exterminate the wicked culture of Jericho.

Walls are so significant that even the Kingdom of God is said to have walls. Why does New Jerusalem, God's Heavenly Kingdom, need walls? It demonstrates that only certain people are allowed within the boundaries. These people must be citizens of God's Kingdom. This is better explained when you read a description of the various divides in the tabernacle and Solomon's temple. In heaven, however, it is written that the gates will be open. This symbolizes that all are welcome to God's Kingdom, but even then, access can only be granted "Legally." 

Only those who have gone through the process of becoming citizens of God's Kingdom will be admitted inside of its walls. Those who have not will be cast out. Some would make the case that God is cruel under such circumstances, but he has made it clear that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The only way to enter God's Kingdom is through him. Now, let's apply that to today.

If not even heaven will allow people into its OPEN gates without having the proper documentation, why should we allow just anyone to come into our country? What is worse, we allow them in, grant free medical care, place them on welfare, and give them a job that pays less than what federal laws allow. We have and will continue to compromise our national identity so long as we continue admitting illegal immigrants into America. It would be wonderful if we could sit around the campfire, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya, but there are people that want into our country that want to kill innocent civilians.

Back in the days of Nehemiah, a foreign king granted him permission to build a wall around his nation's capital. Why do the politicians in America insist we leave our border unprotected and allow countless unknown persons in? God is the one who has established human governments, so we should find it important enough to defend our national identity; especially since our identity is one of the few in the world that has sought to do good to people and not evil. America has provided a safe haven in the world for its citizens. Those who are citizens have taken their commitment to this country seriously enough to enter through the proper avenues and assimilate into our culture of freedom. The intentions of the United States have been so misconstrued that even the Pope has begun to believe that our enemies' accusations against us are true.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Good Men Can't Be Good Leaders?

I'm listening to a radio break and the host of the morning show comes on, "I was listening to the Republican debate and Ben Carson got so fired up that he almost opened his eyes! ...Can you imagine this guy dealing with Vladimir Putin? ...[Impersonating Ben Carson]'I'd like to uh...talk to you about missiles and rockets' - [Putin interrupts] 'Shut up, get outta my office!' That's exactly how it would go down." All of a sudden I am irritated with the assumptions this host just made.

His premise (based on the full context) was basically that a good man cannot make a good leader. I have heard over and over how people like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz cannot make a good President because they are too good of men. I actually have inserted the word good into their mouths, but on the criteria by which they disqualify such men, I would classify the qualities they count as negatives to be marks of a man of good character. What are these characteristics.

#1) Of all other characteristics it is feared that since they do not raise their voices as loud as some of the other candidates, they are somehow weak.

#2) The Establishment politicians hate them. How can you convince either side to cooperate with you when they do not like you?

#3) Powerful dictators of the world hate and disrespect the United States. How can a nice person insist upon the standing down of hostile forces around the world?

#4) They are too nice too often. How can you trust someone that is so nice?

#5) They stand by their convictions. If you are not willing to compromise, how are you ever going to accomplish anything when you have to work with people?

Starting with #5 and working my way up, have we not been waiting for a leader with strong convictions? We voted for Clinton because George H. W. Bush broke a promise not to raise taxes, instead choosing to compromise with the Democratic Senate. We elected George W. Bush because we wanted to restore dignity to the White House after Bill Clinton's affair with a young intern in the Oval Office. We elected Obama because we wanted a President that would be sensitive to the needs of the country and not special interest groups. We want someone who stands for something good and decent.

#4) Since when is being nice a negative? I understand that the accusation is actually that too nice = fake. That's okay, but look at Tim Tebow. Even now, after being persistently scrutinized by NFL teams who refuse to include him on their roster, despite being a playoff bound quarterback with a post season win under his belt, he remains smiling and kind. Yes, his niceness has not landed him a spot on an NFL team, but I do not think that his kindness is really the issue here. I think it's more so that he makes a lot of the players, coaches, and owners feel uncomfortable that someone as content as himself, whether he starts or not, can have success inside of a league of cut-throat competition. Face it, some people just find no reason to be mean and it does not hurt their ability to influence people; in fact, most people like dealing with someone nice.

#3) After reading this post, go on to YouTube and look up anything you can find with Ronald Reagan. You will notice that he is a very bright, cheerful, and energetic man. But Reagan was not naive about the intentions of other nations (when most other politicians seemed to be) and he certainly was not weak with foreign policy. He was the President that demanded Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. Reagan was a very nice person, but he knew the power he had at his disposal. Teddy Roosevelt said it best, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick." The President of the United States has the most powerful military force in the world at his command. If someone like Carson got elected, shoot, if Droopy the Dog ever got elected President, so long as he shows that he keeps his word, foreign powers will not test his willingness to use military might.

#2) Of course the Establishment politicians hate them! Carson and Cruz represent the death of the Established order in Washington D. C. They intend on keeping their word when they get to Washington. I think that in the course of the Republican Primary, many voters have forgotten that you cannot trust Establishment candidates. They are renowned for breaking promises. In the case of Ted Cruz, he has ratted them out; exposed them for who they are. But their is hope for someone like Carson or Cruz in beating them, if elected President.

Reagan had the same problem in his days as President. He was particularly hated by the Establishment for having run against their President, of which he was the same party affiliation. You would have thought, after getting elected, that Reagan had no chance of convincing his fellow Republicans, let alone the opposing Democrats, of working with him. What did Reagan do?

Simple, he knew that he was elected by the American people and owned their overwhelming support. These same people are the ones who elected Congress. So, Reagan appealed to the American people to win their support in whatever cause he was pursuing. In doing this he was able to convince Congress to support his agenda, lest they risk loosing re-election.

#1) This idea that a leader has to be loud is absurd. A leader needs only to be bold. Carson is bold in that he has left his profession to pursue the highest office in the land, lacking professional experience in politics. Cruz is bold in that he stands before the Senate and holds them accountable for their lies and deception. When you are able to present a convincing argument and you stick to the facts, there is no need to be loud.

If you were to go on to YouTube and listen to some of the court cases that Ted Cruz has been involved in, the point is made all the more clear. His cold, accusing poker-face unsettles those that he questions. His questions allow no wiggle room for those he questions. When someone is lying or dodging a question, it is obvious because they resort to restating themselves over and over while never directly answering his questions. Not everyone will crack, but many will.

 And Now it's time to recognize that Good Men are not only fit to lead, but have been the most effective leaders in history. President Washington was not said to be loud or outspoken, but was seen as an honorable man who lived a quiet life. William Wilberforce battled slavery in Great Britain and won. He was described as being an impish, puny man. But when he stood before Parliament to lay down his arguments against slavery, he was said to be a man who once before appeared as a shrimp, quickly became as big as a whale. Abraham Lincoln was no doubt a passionate man. But he was known as Honest Abe. As a good man, he had the guts to send the Union troops to war against their brothers in the South. George W. Bush, a man who never responded to personal attacks, launched one of the most powerful retaliations against Afghanistan after the World Trade Center was toppled by Osama Bin Laden.

Good Men are the best leaders. They have the ability to make tough decisions, based on their moral convictions, without batting an eyelash. The problem in politics today is not that good men have allowed D.C. to walk all over them. The problem is that there is hardly a good man in D.C.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Phil Robertson on Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

Sometimes I feel like a loner when it comes to politics. As a result, I sometimes question my judgment with who I stand with when it comes to major elections like the one that is coming up. I am glad that there is someone out there that I wholeheartedly agree with when it comes to the 2016 Republican Primary and Presidential election. That man is Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson.

If you are not a regular viewer of Duck Dynasty, you might remember Phil from his infamous condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle. His strong words against the practice almost resulted in his banishment from the show. But his family rallied around him and pressured A&E into keeping him in and continuing their series.

I was browsing through YouTube and came across an interesting video: Phil Robertson on why he's backing Ted Cruz. Fox Business' Neil Cavuto was interviewing him concerning about why he supports Ted Cruz as well as what he thought about his son Willie's support of Donald Trump. His response summed up almost exactly how I feel about the situation.

He stated that he supports Ted Cruz because Cruz stands for God and for James Madison (meaning the Constitution of the United States).

Concerning Trump, he stated that too many youngsters like Willie and Cavuto are easily swayed by the smooth talking Donald Trump. I do have to say that I would not call Trump smooth talking at all. However, the distinction he made between Trump and Cruz was significant.

Ted Cruz is clearly a man of God. Ted Cruz has been likened to a televangelist by his critics because of the centralized role God plays within his campaign.

He is also a strict Constitutionalist. Talk radio hosts might disagree on many things about many of the candidates, but there are two things that most of them agree on in relation to Cruz. He will defend the Constitution tooth and nail and he will honor his promises to his constituents to the bitter end. It doesn't take much digging to figure out that Cruz is not afraid to be ostracized for being a straight shooting politician. He has been called divisive, a hardliner, and a man who will not compromise by the Establishment Republicans. Other candidates echo these criticisms as they are really the only points that they can hold against Cruz up till now. The problem is that his supporters know that his divisiveness in Washington D.C. is actually a good thing. The Republicans and Democrats have been getting along so well, have been so united, that you cannot tell the difference between the two factions. It is almost certain that his critics ate aware of the truth behind their accusations but it does not stop them from using this as a black mark against him.

One such candidate is his rival and front-runner, Donald Trump. Despite the anger and strong language he has used, he has managed to win over some significant endorsements: Jerry Falwell Jr, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin. And it seems as though his endorsements continue to emerge from seemingly unlikely places. In the words of Robertson, it seems like they are being smooth talked over to his side.

Nonetheless, even Robertson acknowledged that Trump is not the worst of what's out there. Trump, is still a man who loves this country and says he wants to see it achieve greatness again. When you look to the left and see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battling it out for the Democrat nomination, Trump's shaky view on things don't seem quite so bad. Because his campaign maintains a certain amount of ambiguity, I believe that he very well may possess the ability, if elected to make America Great Again.

Alas, a strict Constitutionalist would be preferable to a more popular option. The problem is that so many promises have already been broken by Washington that voters do not want to see another elected Washington official in the White House even if it is one who has the stellar record of Ted Cruz. But the race is far from over. Nobody knows what the next few months will hold for either side of the political aisle and it will be interesting to see how things shake out. My sentiments is that I am grateful for people like Phil Robertson who stand firm by their convictions that we want a Godly man who will preserve the foundations of this country, but will do what is necessary to make sure that a candidate is not elected President whose aim is to destroy this country as it was founded.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Conservatives and Liberals Could be the Same...If they wanted to be

Shocking enough statement, I know. Can a conservative and a liberal be the same in this great country? Let's look into this a little.

First, when I say conservative and liberal I mean in the political sense. In the current environment, conservatives and liberals are vastly different; not just in the political sense, but in just about every field of thought. For instance, I am a Bible scholar and I would be considered a conservative Biblical scholar. What does that mean?

That means that when I read the Bible, I read it for what it says and I believe that the Bible is not a document that was meant to be interpreted one way 2000 years ago and in a different way today. A liberal scholar would say that the Bible was written for a particular context for a particular time that, while it holds some truths applicable today, the majority does not apply to today's circumstances. A conservative theologian will always affirm the divinity of Jesus. Liberal theologians sometimes deny this very fundamental truth to the Christian faith as it is taught in the Bible. There is very little conservative and liberal theologians would agree upon.

Likewise in the current political environment. A conservative politician is very different from a liberal politician. Why is that and how could I propose that the two could ever be the same?

The problem is not so much conservative and liberal in politics; it is constitutionalist vs anti-constitutionalist. An anti-constitutionalist should not be allowed in American politics and it is a shame that they slip through the cracks and get elected as often as they do. If we were dealing with conservative and liberal constitutionalists, the dynamics of our political system would be very different.

A constitutionalist is simply someone who abides by the words of the Constitution of the United States.

The problem we have is that the conservatives and liberals have become very similar in that the majority of them are anti-constitutionalist. They want to follow a government structure that requires a big government and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people. These politicians would be defined as the Establishment.

There are a small number of politicians that we call conservatives and the media makes them out to be crazy people. These conservatives are constitutional conservatives. They are battling against the Establishment to restore the government back to the principles of the constitution.

How can you be a constitutionalist and be a liberal? Let's take the issue of gay marriage. I believe that a politician on the national level who follows the constitution would not differ on the solution to this issue whether they are conservative or liberal. A constitutionalist would say, with the current laws and understanding of marriage in relation to the federal government, that marriage is a matter left up to the states. Now, a conservative constitutionalist would be more likely to say that marriage should not be recognized by the government at all, because it is a private religious institution. A liberal constitutionalist might be more likely to want to pass an ammendment to either allow or disallow the practice of gay marriage. How does that differ from the Establishment?

The Establishment tries to find ways to force things upon the people who elected them. Party allegiance is more important than supporting the people who elected you. George Washington famously denounced the idea of political parties. Individuals were supposed to be elected based on their ideas and were supposed to battle it out with other politicians to prove that their ideas were better. When political parties get involved, politicians become a class separate from the people who are voting for them and their election becomes more about personal gain than faithfully serving the American people. The Establishment inherently defies the principles of the Constitution because America was supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The Establishment is a regime reminiscent of a socialistic or a communistic ruling class. It separates politicians from the average person and exalts them as someone "more important."

With a constitutionalist, everybody wins whether it is liberal or conservative. With an Establishment politician, all you can expect are lies and tricks that are designed to trick voters into giving up more of their freedoms to accomodate the political class.

Is a conservative and liberal constitutionalist the same? Not 100%. But the options they provide are either to leave the Constitution as it stands or to legally ammend it to bring about change. Pray for the few remaining constitutionalists that exist in Washington. They don't have it easy and you can't imagine the pressure they face to become another victim of the Establishment's lure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The World Needs Jesus

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

I've heard a lot of things this week and much of it has not been good. People lying, slandering, engaging in unseemly behavior, debauchery, and just all around wickedness. It would be easy for me to condemn the world except for the one simple fact that brings all of this into reality, I am no better than anyone mentioned in these news items. The only difference between many of them and myself is that I acknowledge that I am sick and they do not.

We are saved by grace, as I am sure you have heard. This is what confuses the world about Christians. We say that we have been forgiven through God's grace, meaning that he has shown us undeserved favor, and yet we hold the world to a standard that surpasses our own standards of morality. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would recognize the sad reality that although the acceptance of Jesus into our hearts wipes our record of sin away according to God's book, that does not mean that we live as angels here on earth.

We need Jesus, all of us. Every day I need to be reminded to walk with him. Even then I allow myself to be dragged into the muck of the world that pollutes my mind and my heart. But when I am alone, I fall to my knees and thank God for his mercy, grace, and forgiveness. I need Jesus and I know it.

Only in Jesus can we be complete. He forgives our sins, wipes away our guilt, and empowers us to live life to the fullest. To live for anything else or anyone else is pointless. Who cares how great you might become in this lifetime? All people die one way or another, so who cares? But in Jesus, we have eternal life.

He has shown us how to live out eternal lives. We are to live out our lives in sacrificial love for one another. It was Jesus himself that said that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. Is not love our very reason for living?

For God first loved us. He himself is love and created us for the sake that he is love and wanted to spread his love. His love is our life blood and his blood made it possible for us to receive his love. This blood was shed of his Son, Jesus. We all need Jesus. The world needs Jesus. I need Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show: What About It?

The title of this post says it all, Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show: What About It? If it wasn't for the controversy it was stirring up, I don't know. The performance as a whole wasn't memorable, but the performers did a pretty good job. But it was crammed with all sorts of political brainwashing. To me, I react by saying, "What else is new?" If you haven't noticed yet, everything is political brainwashing anymore. Nonetheless, let's do a quick overview of the show one piece at a time.

The scenery.

It was very colorful. Very colorful. Clearly someone...Coldplay...wanted an LGBT themed Halftime Show. But the scenery, despite the vibrant colors, will go down as very not memorable.

Music

I thought that the music was overall pretty good, but if you are performing a Super Bowl Halftime show, you should be aiming higher than pretty good. I was not familiar with most of the music, so I was glad to hear them open with a good song that I happen to be familiar with.

As for Beyonce, I don't possess the cultural understanding to get all of the references in her music, but maybe she could have picked an entrance song a little less racially charged. Because even if you do not understand everything else she is singing about, certain words/lyrics definitely stuck out and did not leave me with the impression that I was welcome to view this Halftime Show.

Talent

A few years ago, Beyonce lit the stage up in one of the most spectacular Halftime Shows ever. This year I did not feel quite as impressed by her performance. She sang well and still has some moves (despite almost falling, but who cares), but to me she came across too militant and was overshadowed by everyone else on the stage.

Bruno Mars on the other hand, holy moly that guy is talented. I can't remember when his first appearance at the Super Bowl was, but I was impressed by that one as well. Maybe I don't watch enough music videos (or listen to enough mainstream music) but this guy's dance skills and voice are some of the best I have ever seen.

Politically

The opening and closing were very much in your face. They wanted you to know from the get go that this is a pro LGBT performance. They changed things up in the middle, but then they went all out with rainbow flags, banners, clothing, and a huge rainbow sign supported by the audience that said "believe in love" (What does that even mean? Like, believe that love exists? If that's all, I'm sold, but something tells me that was not the message) at the end. It's sad that rainbow decor is supposed to represent the LGBT community because even though it was not a memorable theme, it was still pretty to look at.

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't there some sort of Supreme Court decision last year regarding gay marriage? That being said, what was the meaning of this in your face display of LGBT pride? I guess I'm so used to stuff being shoved in my face by the mainstream anymore that it neither surprised nor angered me. Okay, maybe it surprised me in that I felt that they are behind the times if they are still fighting for gay rights, but after the past 3 years its been like, "Oh, whaddaya know? Another gay pride display. I wonder what else is on. [Click].". How much further can it go? The only solution anymore is to just not watch, but every now and then they hit a home run (Black Eyed Peas were really good, Destiny's Child, U2, and Katy Perry to name a few of the performances I really enjoyed in years past).

Now, Beyonce. I had to do a little research on because I have heard that her performance was Black Panther themed. I know who the Black Panthers are but I wasn't sure exactly how she made that clear. Apparently it had a lot more to do with her attire and that of her supporting dancers. In bad taste? Let's just put it this way: I don't expect Super Bowl 51 to feature Taylor Swift with an entourage clad in white hoods...just saying. Beyonce removed any doubt of her statement by signaling with the Black Power salute. It was not as bad as I thought it would be granted what I heard about it, though.

My complaint is that we should be over this sort of childishness by now. Have we not had a black President in the White House for the past 7 years? Did we not have a Supreme Court decision that ruled it unconstitutional to not allow gay couples to get married? Weren't the 60's...back in the 60's?

You know what? I do believe in love. What I saw at the Super Bowl Halftime Show had nothing to do with love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not record of wrongs. What I saw on display, sure they had smiles on their faces, but what prompted them to take upon the themes that they did? Pride, anger, rudeness, and an inability to let go of the past. If they had the slightest bit of an idea of what love truly is, we wouldn't be trying to dissect what they were trying to get across. We would said something more like, "Wow, those guys are good."

I'm not angry about what happened. Like I said, I'm used to this sort of stuff now. In fact, the way they went about this was far more mild than what you would get in an awards show. It just so happens that it does not belong in a place where they truly are not the main attraction. The Halftime Show is supposed to give fans time to go to the bathroom and get something to eat or drink. And if they happen to remain seated instead of battling the rush of traffic, they should be rewarded with the levity provided by a first class performance with you in mind.